Sunday, August 06, 2006

Reuters Photo Phiasco round-up

I'm hesitant to say that this will be my last post on the subject, but unless something significant develops, it will be. Let's stop beating this dead horse, and just get it off to the glue factory.

To recap, Adnan Hajj, a Reuters stringer based in Lebanon, shot a picture of Beirut after an Israeli airstrike. Apparently not satisfied with the impact of the shot, he punched it up a bit by adding more smoke. The photo showed up on Yahoo News on Saturday, 5 August.

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs jumped all over it, igniting a blog storm as other bloggers ran with it, most notably Left & Right, Ace of Spades, Hot Air and Michelle Malkin.

By Sunday morning, Reuters issued a "kill" of the photo, and it gradually began to disappear from both Reuters and Yahoo News.

In an effort to convince the unwashed masses of Reuters' commitment to journalistic ethics, Hajj was dropped by Reuters as a source.

But the question of how this could have happened lingers, and the loss of whatever credibility Reuters had left is all but assured.

Why doctor up the image in the first place? Without getting into Adnan Hajj's head, we may never know. It's not as if Israel didn't bomb Beirut and we the public needed to somehow be convinced that they did. Maybe Hajj thought that a single smoke plume from one building wasn't enough. Clearly, the intent of the doctored photograph was to imply that much more than a single building was struck. But still, why was one burning building not enough? Here's where I'll venture into speculation.

As will be obvious to anyone who reads this humble blog, I'm not a journalist. But one of the things I do know about journalism is that a journalist is supposed to maintain objectivity. He's not supposed to take sides. This rule has been incrementally marginalized by the mainstream media over the years to the point where little that the media says can be taken at face value.

In the case of the Israel-Hizballah conflict, the leftist-dominated MSM has become so anti-Israel (see my earlier post on why), that the entire conflict is framed in terms of Israeli aggression and Lebanese suffering. Never mind that Israel specifically targets what it believes to be Hizballah military positions (after pleading with civilians to evacuate) while Hizballah randomly lobs Katyusha rockets into Israeli civilian population centers.

So Hajj doctors up his image, and Reuters' part comes down to one of either complicity or incompetence, neither of which augur well for the credibility of Reuters as a world class news organization.

And that's my last post on the subject. Unless it's not.

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